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For much of the TV schedule, summer will be the dog days

JustSilver is host new CBS show “Dogs City.” Other networks also have summer shows focusing dogs.

Justin Silver is host of the new CBS show “Dogs in the City.” Other networks also have summer shows focusing on dogs.

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Updated: July 3, 2012 12:37PM

LOS ANGELES — Summer television used to mean reruns. This year it’s gone to the dogs.

Several new shows star dogs and their owners in need of help. CBS has the lone network show in “Dogs in the City,” starring comic, dog trainer and businessman Justin Silver. It’s joined by documentaries on PBS and HBO and a series in the works for the Disney Channel, among others.

Each Wednesday at 7 p.m., beginning this week, Silver will try to help hound and human tackle unsettling problems like joint custody after divorce or dealing with significant others who just moved in.

Is man or mutt usually to blame for problems? It’s 50-50, he said, but “a dog’s behavior is shaped by the people in its life.”

“Dogs in the City” seems to have a lot in common with “The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” on the National Geographic Channel and “It’s Me or the Dog” with Victoria Stilwell on Animal Planet. “Bad Dog!” is another Animal Planet show, although it uses videotape to capture misbehavior in a test of sorts to see how far an owner’s love will stretch.

Upcoming documentaries explore the rewards and redemption of shelter dogs. “Shelter Me” (10 p.m. Wednesday on WTTW-Channel 11) is narrated by actress Katherine Heigl and follows an animal control officer, adoption workers, female inmates who train rescue dogs, and vets who acquire former shelter dogs.

“ ‘Shelter Me’ is about the lives that are changed when shelter pets are given a second chance,” Heigl said.

Andrew J. Trotto, an Army veteran from Mission Viejo, Calif., was teamed up with Teka, a black Lab rescued from a Wyoming shelter by Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, Colo.

“If it wasn’t for her, I’d be dead right now,” Trotto says in the film.

“I was an evil person. I hated you or wanted to kill you,” he said, describing the PTSD demons that haunted him. “People say suicide is selfish. But when you are in the zone, you’re not thinking about that. The terror in your head drives you insane. [Teka] will wake me up out of my night terrors.”

On June 18, HBO will premiere a documentary called “One Nation Under Dog: Stories of Fear, Loss & Betrayal.”

The film looks at America’s obsession with dogs, how far individuals will go for their pets and what it will take for people across the country to treat all dogs humanely.

And the Disney Channel also has a show called “Dog With a Blog” in the works for the fall. While it does involve a rescue dog, that’s where reality ends.

The live-action, multi-camera series revolves around a husky, golden retriever and border collie mix named Stan (who is really a 4-year-old named Kuma). Turns out Stan can read, write and blog.


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